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The Northern Lights

So, the Northern Lights. A phenomenon when solar flares collide with the earth’s magnetic field and create all sorts of pretty colors in the sky. The effects can range from simple green stripes in the air, to actual pink ‘dancing’ lights, and if you’re really lucky you can get the blue one as well (I wasn’t though).

Seeing them is quite a hassle. You have to go up North, really far north. Tromsø is one of the best places, because due to the gulf stream it isn’t as incredibly cold as the rest of the polar circle. Plus, it happens to lie in the ring where the chances of seeing the lights are the highest, any further north and the chances do not increase.

So you’ve reached Tromsø. You need lots of darkness, so Winter or late Autumn is best. I took the extreme of going there around the shortest days of the year for extra chance. Then you need to hope that the sun is active enough to send out the good waves. Then you need to hope that there aren’t any clouds out there. The best chances for that is after November, March is the time with the least amount of clouds. And even then, you need to make sure to actually move out of the city of Tromsø, in order to avoid the light pollution: the less light around you, the more you get to see. And the added bonus is that if there are no lights, you can still see the beautiful starry sky, which is also spectacular when you move out of the city.

The best thing you can do is go on a Northern lights hunting tour. They are manned by experienced drivers who will drive you to anywhere where the chances of viewing the lights are the best, and as an added bonus you get to see a lot of the landscape around it. You can also hire a car and drive yourself, but be warned: when I went around with a tour, I already saw two cars stuck in the snow. You need to know what you’re doing, people have frozen to death there, and even without that, getting stuck in the middle of nowhere at -10 is not fun.

I was very lucky: I saw the lights on three consecutive days. Two days had the single green stripe in the air, but I had one day to really get a good look on them, and it was spectacular. You will never see something move in the sky as fast, and seeing the lights dance was a magical experience.

You want to take pictures? Hah, good luck. You need a tripod, and a camera that will allow you to adjust the shutter time, to take in more light. If you don’t have one, you’ll get the bad quality of what you see here on this post. I am posting these for the memory, not the beauty, because they are nothing like in real life.

This post first appeared on A Dutchman's Footsteps, please read the originial post: here

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The Northern Lights


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